James Rasp has been appointed the new director and program specialist for the University of New Mexico's Veterans Resource Center. He comes to UNM from the Biomedical Research Institute of New Mexico, where he worked on a Cooperative Studies Program that conducted clinical trials on veterans.
Rasp finds learning the terminology, plus the many colleges, schools and departments at UNM, a bit challenging; but he’s up to the task. For 20 years, the Air Force retiree worked under the Security Forces umbrella, spending five years in special operations and four years as a recruiter.
“This is a very worthwhile position and I’m excited,” Rasp said. “It’s a different working environment for me, but like anything new, it’s going to take some time to get it all down. I’m a service-oriented individual so I’m ready to do anything that helps veterans succeed here. I got my undergrad degree while I was on active duty and my grad degrees while working full time. I have an understanding of where student veterans are coming from, and what they’re going through.”
Rasp added that the student veteran experience is vastly different from the traditional student experience. They’re more mature and their priorities are very different. “I think older students and veterans in particular take their education more seriously.Their mindset is to get a job done, and that includes education.”
Rasp’s message to the student veterans on campus is, “We’re here to help. Let us know what’s going on so that we can make sure you graduate.”
The first line of business for Rasp and the VRC is a new initiative called the Green Zone. The program teaches UNM staff and professors what they may experience with regards to a student veteran; challenging issues they may be facing on campus or even at home.